Hair loss during menopause – the final straw?

Hair loss during menopause

Author: Stephanie Moore, AIT

On top of every other menopausal symptom that you have to contend with, the loss of your crowning glory can be very hard to cope with; hair is a defining part of our identity and changes to it beyond our control can cause anxiety and emotional distress. Expert trichologist, Stephanie Moore, AIT, explores the causes and solutions for hair loss during menopause. 

The hair growth cycle

We all lose some hair daily; with an average of 100,000 hair follicles on our scalps, there is a natural daily turnover of around 100 hairs. This is down to the hair growth cycle, which has three distinct phases and must be understood before understanding hair loss conditions:

  • Anagen, the actively growing phase: on average will last for 5 years and determines the overall length your hair can reach. 90% of hair is considered to be in anagen at one time.
  • Catagen, a transitional phase: lasts for roughly 2 weeks
  • Telogen, the resting phase: the hair is held in the follicle for approximately 3 months until it is pushed out by a newly growing anagen hair and the cycle is repeated. Around 10% of the hair is in telogen at any time, accounting for the figure of 100 telogen hairs lost daily.

Will low oestrogen cause hair loss?

Intrinsic aging happens to us all; after the age of 20, collagen production decreases by 1% each year resulting in loss of elasticity, otherwise known as wrinkles! By the age of 30, the density of your hair has also already started to gradually decline due to the aging process.

Oestrogen is thought to play a protective role within the hair follicle, so without that hormone, there are some subtle changes that are related to hair loss during menopause specifically and independent of age:

  • A decrease in hair shaft diameter, particularly towards the front hairline
  • A reduction in the speed of hair growth
  • A lower percentage of hair actively growing in anagen.

Interestingly, the actual diameter of each individual hair shaft has been found to continue to increase until it reaches its peak around 45 years, perhaps this hides the perception of the pre-existing decrease in density until this time. So the combination of all of this means that your hair may start to feel thinner, there may be more visible scalp or it may just lack the same volume that it used to. We all have different densities of hair however and these changes happen gradually over a period of time and some ladies may not notice them as much as others. Unfortunately, when these changes are compounded by additional hair loss conditions, that hair loss and scalp visibility are felt more acutely.

It is hard to categorise just one type of hair loss during menopause, as there are multiple factors relating to this period of life that can coexist and have different effects on the hair; from the gradual density and diameter changes described above, to an excess of hair shedding called telogen effluvium brought about by nutritional deficiencies, medication and underlying illnesses, to a genetic hair loss called female pattern hair loss. The correct diagnosis is important to ensure that the correct steps are identified for your particular issue.

Related articles:

Thinning hair during menopause – give your hair some TLC

Diet and exercise can help menopausal hair loss

Can hormones cause female pattern hair loss (FPHL) and is it permanent?


About the Author
Stephanie Moore, AIT, studied Trichology with the prestigious Institute of Trichologists in the UK. She qualified as a Trichologist with distinctions in both years and received the prestigious John Mason Award for Excellence. Stephanie practices out of her two clinics in Ashtead, Surrey and Harley Street, London. If you would like to contact Stephanie for a consultation, please visit www.surreytrichologyclinic.co.uk

What does a trichologist do?
There are many different aspects that can affect the hair, and it is possible to have more than one condition contributing to your hair loss, making it confusing to work out what is going on! A trichologist is a specialist in hair and scalp disorders and is able to examine and diagnose your hair loss, to provide you with personalised advice and information about the next steps and options available to you.

To search for a qualified member of The Institute of Trichologists in your area, please visit www.trichologists.org.uk

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